• OSHA- Food Flavorings, Diacetyl
  • April 28, 2009 | Author: Henry Chajet
  • Law Firm: Patton Boggs LLP - Washington Office
  • Following a recent report of a $7.5 million federal jury award to an Iowa man who developed lung disease, reportedlyfrom exposure as a flavoring mixer in the 1990s, U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda L Solis announced "action to prevent workers' exposure to food flavorings chemicalcontaining diacetyl." The Secretary withdrew an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) on diacetylto facilitate OSHA's "timely development of a standard to protect workers from bronchiolitis obliterans, a serious and potentially fatal lung disease associated with such an exposure."

    In a press release, the Secretary stated: "I am alarmed that workers exposed to food flavorings containing diacetyl may continue to be at risk of developing a potentially fatal lung disease. Exposure to this harmful chemical already has been linked to the deaths of three workers. These deaths are preventable, and it is imperative that the Labor Department move quickly to address exposure to food flavorings containing diacetyl and eliminate unnecessary steps without affecting the public's ability to comment on the rulemaking process."

    The DOL press release states that "Secretary Solis' interest in this issue began when she was a member of Congress and workers in her former California district developed the irreversible lung disease after being exposed to this workplace hazard. At one time, she urged OSHA to issue an emergency temporary standard to protect these workers." (emphasis added).

    Apparently seeking a faster rulemaking than would have taken place with the ANPR inititation, DOL justified the withdrawl by stating:

    "Withdrawing the ANPRM facilitates the convening of a small business advocacy review panel to determine the impact a proposed rule might have on small businesses and how those impacts can be reduced, consistent with the agency's statutory requirements. This panel process is required under the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act. All materials submitted prior to the ANPR withdrawal, as well as any other information submitted directly to OSHA after the withdrawal, will be put in the public rulemaking docket and will receive appropriate consideration as a part of the overall rulemaking record."